Ideas for Employee Engagement That Actually Work

Ideas for Employee Engagement...

That Actually Work!

Employee engagement ideas are thick on the ground these days.  Apparently, you can engage your employees by doing anything from giving out certificates to buying them an all-expenses paid trip to Bali.  For those of us who live on the planet Earth, however, there are two main drawbacks to these employee engagement ideas:

  • Some of them are impractical, expensive, or simply out of reach.
  • While others are questionable to say the least.

And while we all would like to go on a company-funded vacation to Bali, we have to accept that, for the most part, it’s simply not an option.  So it’s a good thing that there are other employee engagement ideas that actually work.  Even better is that any organisation can apply them, regardless of the company size, scope, or budget.

But first, let’s talk about one big fallacy when it comes to employee engagement.  

Why Cash Isn’t a Solution for Employee Engagement

Aside from paying them a reasonable, going-rate salary – something that is a must if you don’t want your best workers lured away by other companies – money doesn’t necessarily correlate with job satisfaction. Although a bonus would be welcome now and then, if your employees really hate their jobs, throwing cash at them isn’t going to make them stay.

This is backed up by two studies. One MIT-conducted study showed that people who did cognitive-based tasks actually performed better when they didn’t receive a hefty check. Those who did get the cushy envelopes fared comparatively poorly.  

A second study, jointly performed by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie & Associates, surveyed 1,500 people on what made them productive employees. The three key factors that emerged were their relationship with their immediate supervisor (the #1 factor), their pride in working for the company, and their belief in senior management.  (Link:

Noticeably absent: Money.  

So what can you do to actively boost employee engagement?

The Best Employee Engagement Ideas That Don’t Involve Paid Oversea's Holidays

As the above studies show, employee engagement hinges on two things:  how the employees feel they are treated (not how you think they’re treated, but how they think they’re treated) and how they connect to their work and to each other.

How can you find out if your employees feel engaged, connected, and appreciated? The easiest and quickest solution is to ask them, whether by email, by survey, or in person. You can even use that good old office standby, the anonymous suggestion box.

Once you do, chances are there will be some changes you’ll have to implement. And that’s okay; growth is always a good thing. This is your opportunity to grow as a manager.

The following ideas for employee engagement are just that: ideas. Concepts. You might even call them attitudes. 

  • Be Honest, Open, and Appreciative.  Remember, according to the Dale Carnegie study, you’re the one who has the most responsibility for your employees’ level of engagement. It’s their relationship with the boss that matters the most.  Being honest, open, and appreciative goes a long way in creating good relationships and a positive work environment. 

  • Show Some Significance.  People usually work harder when they know they’re working for something worthwhile. At the very least, they need to feel that their efforts make a difference to an overall goal.  So acknowledge everyone’s contribution.  

  • Provide Opportunities to Interact.  This can be in structured ways, like during outings or team-building activities.  Or it can be done informally, maybe during company-sponsored lunches or after-hours social events.  

  • Demonstrate Trust in Their Skills.  Try your hardest not to micromanage unless it’s absolutely critical for success.  For the most part, your staff will thrive if given the chance to run their own show.  Sure, you’re still going to provide guidance and leadership – that is, after all, your job – but let them own their role too.

What makes these ideas for employee engagement so successful?  They focus on three basic needs: social togetherness, recognition/appreciation, and a sense of purpose. A beach vacation is temporary, but job satisfaction is long-term.

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mikesymondsroundMike Symonds is the owner of Interactive Events and Creator of Funergizers. Known as the Chief Funergizer, Mike specialises in helping business leaders create energized, connected and engaging team cultures.

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